Posts Tagged ‘Sony DSLR’

Sony A500 catches a male tiger with a ‘radio collar’

Saturday, October 4, 2014 posted by Bruce 8:24 PM

A male Indochinese tiger in the Western Forest Complex of Thailand..!

A500 tiger male with collar

What are the odds that my DSLRs would capture two different tigers sporting radio collars within one week of each other..? These are real fluke camera trap shots taken some twenty kilometers away from my Nikon D700 that caught a female also with a collar at the ‘tiger log’. I just posted this on this website a couple of days ago. http://brucekekule.com/camera_trapping/nikon-d700-catches-an-indochinese-female-tiger-sporting-a-radio-collar/

A500 tiger male with collar

The Sony A500 was triggered by a male tiger on Sept. 17, 2014 at 10:26 PM while the D700 got a female on Sept. 24 at 5:45 AM. I only captured two tigers this trip and it seems weird that they both have collars. Maybe the ‘spirits of the forest’ wanted me to really show and tell the world what is actually going on in this forest concerning tigers. Who knows..?

A500 tiger male with collar

Needless to say, I’ve already vented my feelings about tigers and radio collars in my recent D700 post so there’s no sense in going there again. However, the A500 got a nice string of shots of this male with a huge collar. I think the battery is on the bottom and transmitter on top. This monstrosity surely looks heavy..!

A500 tiger male with collar

Unfortunately, only one flash on the right triggered which was a bit of a let-down. The other flash was up high on the tree pointing down at the tiger and would have cancelled that shadow. It was one of those things and there’s always next time. The A500 fired four quick shots and as the big cat jumped forward, triggered another five as he leaped to the right. All in all, I was still pleased with the results and look forward to a ‘black cat’ that I once videoed in broad daylight at this very location.

A500 tiger male with collar

Noise is also a problem with these images, as I had to do some heavy tweaking in Camera Raw and Photoshop to get them to acceptable levels. If I had been shooting in JPG. format, there would be no chance to bring these back. RAW capture is the only way to revive images when things get dark with not enough light.

A500 tiger male with collar

I’m not sure if this is inherent to Sony but I think most makes and brands with low light means serious noise although the newer pro-cameras handle noise quite well. The settings are: ƒ8 – 1/80th – 400 ISO…flash set to ¼ power, and lens was a Minolta 28mm (old lens I have had for years). It’s a wonder I got these shots at all..!

A500 tiger male with collar

Oh well, back to the drawing board on flash standby power. I’m putting together a couple Nikon SB-28 and SB-600 flashes that will work with hard-wire or radio triggers with four Eneloop AAs in the flash and four rechargeable ‘Ultracell ‘D’ cells with 11,000 mAh capacity as externals to add more power for longer soaks. This will all fit in a lockable ‘Tupperware’ type box as shown.

A500 tiger male with collar

I will try these on the A500 first to see if there is a difference with staying power. I also believe that three or more flashes are the ticket for well-lit shots…I know Steve Winter with N.G. sometimes uses from 4-5 flashes depending on terrain.

A500 tiger male with collar

It’s a never-ending battle with the DSLRs but I guess that’s what I like about using them: the challenge to get tigers and leopards on digital camera plus all the other cryptic animals in Thailand’s forests…it all becomes worthwhile when I do get a shot or shots…! Enjoy.

 

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My smallest DSLR camera trap…!

Thursday, August 21, 2014 posted by Bruce 11:17 AM

A ‘Hybrid’ trail cam – Sony A55 DSLR/Minolta 50mm macro lens

Sony A55-Minolta 50mm

Sony A55 DSLR – Minolta 50mm Macro lens.

DSLR trail cameras for the most part are pretty big. Camera-trappers have built them mostly using the Pelican 1200 and even the 1300 case, and other makes like Plano and Seahorse large cases have also been used.

I have built a few now and like the smaller Pelican 1150 for my Nikon D700 and D300s plus a Canon 400D and 600D with 8-volt SLA battery packs, and even a smaller Pelican 1120 for a Sony A500 but they are still pretty big and standout sitting on a tree in the forest.

Sony A55-Minolta 50mm

Top view of a Sony A55/Minolta 50mm in a ‘Tupperware’ type box. 

In my case, elephant’s will home in on strange objects and strength plus rigidity is the No: 1 priority. With my ‘elephant proof’ boxes and three to four lag bolts, these hard and sharp edged external aluminum boxes have survived the forest giant stomping test many times…!

But I wanted something smaller. After some sole searching, I found this lockable plastic box (a Tupperware type) that would allow a small Sony A55 DSLR to just sit in the box with a Minolta 50mm ‘macro’ lens (just happen to have this lens from my old days when I used Minolta cameras). A pair of 18650 Lithium 4.2 volts for externals is used. The A55 is a 12 megabyte camera and is perfect for a camera trap.

Sony A55-Minolta 50mm

Side view showing connections for flashes (two-pin) and sensor (three-pin).

The Minolta lens works in the Sony perfectly. The snorkel is a length of 77mm diameter thin aluminum tubing secured to the box with Goop. I prefer this to the large, thick and heavy PVC tubing. Goop is also used to attach a 77mm UV filter to the snorkel.

A dedicated ‘elephant proof’ box was built to house the fragile plastic box and camera. I have incorporated a cover to protect the wires and plugs from probing elephant trunks. Four stainless steel lag bolts and a 10mm Python cable secure the box to a tree.

Sony A55-Minolta 50mm

Sony A55/Minolta 50mm showing 18650 4.2-volt externals.

As I won’t be using the flip-up flash or a dedicated hot-shoe flash, I’m using a TTL head and hard-wire everything using two-terminal quick-disconnect plugs for the flashes. A three-terminal plug is used for the sensor, and I seal the plugs with 3M-silicon sealant as shown in the photos. I’ve installed a thin aluminum plate to beef-up this area.

Three flashes are on 10-meter lengths of two-conductor shielded wire with gland fittings on the flash boxes. The fourth flash is on a 15-meter wire to be placed across from the cam hoping to get backlighting of some sort (the set-up and location will require experimentation). I’m using three SB-28s and one SB-80 Nikon flash. All flashes are in ‘Tupperware’ type boxes with elephant proof shrouds made up.

Sony A55-Minolta 50mm

Sony A55 with hard-wired Nikon flashes and SSII hard-wired sensor.

The sensor is a Snapshotsniper SSII with a #5 chip, also on a 10-meter hard-wire cable to be installed on a trail about 6-8 meters from the cam. This way I can focus precisely at the sensor.

I have the perfect place for this cam…to replace the Sony P41 that has captured tiger and leopard plus many other creatures. I will be setting it up in a few days. The rainy season has started and there are not many people around in this area. I’m hoping for some dramatic shots of a black leopard and the other cryptic animals that pass by.

Sony A55-Minolta 50mm

Sony A55 trail cam and ‘elephant proof’ box.

A Sony P41 post with tiger and black leopard to follow…!

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Sony A-500 traIl cam catches Asian deer

Tuesday, March 11, 2014 posted by Bruce 11:26 PM

Some first images of a sambar stag and doe off-trail

Sambar stag -Sony A500 DSLR

A sambar stag in mid-stride.

Sambar doe -Sony A500 DSLR

A sambar doe with the tell-tale lesion on the neck.

A couple months ago, I finished my Sony A-500 trail cam housed in a Pelican 1120 and mounted horizontally. There is no battery grip but two 18650 4.2 volt lithium batteries are used as externals. The camera is fitted with a Sony 28mm lens and a Snapshotsniper SSII sensor is hooked-up. At first, I tried a radio trigger for the two flashes but they did not work efficiently so I hard-wired the two Nikon SB-28s, and they have worked great ever since. I have also hard-wired the sensor with a 10 meter cable and set it on the side of the trail. I also use the sensor in the box in case the trail sensor does not pick-up an animal, and both work in tandem. It seems to be very sensitive and these sambar were both off-trail along a stream that is quite far away. I’m hoping to catch a black leopard that frequents this area plus tiger and other exotic species such as tapir. The 28mm lens is perfect for the large giants like elephants and gaur. The cam was working real well when I left it a couple days ago…!!

 

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Sony A500 Trail Cam

Friday, January 3, 2014 posted by Bruce 2:09 PM

My smallest DSLR camera trap yet…!

Before my trip to the States in October 2013, I started working on a Sony DSLR trail cam using a Model A500 body with a Sony 28mm ƒ2.8 lens. I prefer prime lenses (24, 28, 35 or 50mm) over zooms for camera traps (for the most part) due to better quality images.

Sony A500 trail cam 1

Sony A500/Pelican 1120/SSII/18650 externals/YongNuo CTR-301P/S.

A Pelican 1120 case has just enough room for the A500 body without a battery pack and a SSII with a #5 chip is used for control. A generic shutter release cable was cut and hooked-up to the SSII. NOTE: Make sure your SSII is up-graded to ‘no refresh’ as this can actuate the camera every couple of hours and drain the battery…!

flash and externals-Sony A500

Close-up modified YongNuo CTR-301P/S wireless flash trigger plus two 18650 externals.

Most people are not aware that Sony bought all the copyrights from Konica-Minolta (K-M) DSLR and SLR programs on the lens mount and other equipment and hence, many lenses and accessories are interchangeable between K-M and Sony. I have a few leftover Minolta lenses from my old film days for future Sony DSLR trail cams. Minolta made some of the finest lenses on the market on par with German Zeiss and Leica. However, the first K-M (Digital Dynax D7 and D5 bodies) were power hogs and a fully charged Lithium battery lasts about two-days on stand-by…!

Sony A500 trail cam 2

Sony A500 in the case.

After Sony took over, power saving was improved and the A500 can last for several weeks. I decided to hack the A500 to take two 18650 – 4.2v Lithium batteries for 8.4v output as externals to increase battery life plus there was enough room in the case for them. However, the original Sony 7.2v battery must be in place for the cam to work with externals..!

SB-28 Flash-Sony A500

Nikon SB-28 and YongNuo CTR-301P/S flash trigger reciever in Tupperware box.

For flash, a YongNuo CTR-301P/S wireless flash trigger for Sony is used along with a Nikon SB-28. The flash trigger transmitter was modified so the body fits in the case as shown. The flash system works very well and the flash, transmitter and two extra 4-AA battery packs all fit in a Tupperware type box. The SB-28 is modified to take regular battery packs putting out 6 volts. I also made up an extra slave flash with a light sensor.

LBK ele' boxes-Sony A500

LBK elephant proof boxes for Sony A500 and Nikon SB-28/YongNuo CTR-301P/S.

The cam and flashes of course have my ‘elephant proof’ aluminum boxes to protect them from the marauding giants and possible theft. I hope to set this cam soon and any photos will be forthcoming…Also, a Sony A700 and a A55 trail cams are one the way…!

Hope this helps anyone with a Sony or Minolta digital camera. A Minolta D7 or D5 would probably need a fairly large SLA battery. However, both make neat trail cams….!!

 

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